Take care in the water, it’s colder than it looks

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service today (13 April) staged a rescue demonstration in Wixams to show how they save people from waterways.

The aim was to show the public, particular young people, what is involved in a water rescue. On a hot spring or summer’s day a pond, pool, old quarry or river might seem inviting, but the cold water shock it can cause means you would quickly become incapacitated and could drown.

Watch Commander Steve Cusack, Kempston Community Fire Station, said:

“Water can be a lot colder than the surrounding warm air might suggest.

“This will immediately cause anyone entering it to get into difficulties.”

Water rescue with a pole

Across the country there are almost 400 water-related fatalities a year, more than those who die due to fires.

In Bedfordshire there have been 10 deaths in rivers and open water over the past five years, and 77 incidents requiring someone to be rescued from water.

“No matter how warm the air is in April and May, inland bodies of water are unlikely to have warmed up from their winter temperatures. Cold water shock creates a physical response that can make it more difficult to swim and so cause someone to drown.”

What to do if somebody is in trouble

  • Think, do not put yourself in danger. Do not enter the water or jump in
  • Shout for help, ring 999 and request the Fire and Rescue Service. Try shouting reassurance to the person in the water, encouragement may get them ashore
  • Reach, if it’s safe to do so, try and reach the person with a stick or a pole or any other object that will keep you out of danger. Crouch or lie down to avoid being pulled into the water
  • Throw designated rescue equipment or rope if available to pull the person to the bank. Otherwise throw in something that will float this will help keep the person afloat until assistance arrives

“Young people need to be aware of the dangers of swimming in open water and to look after their friends by not encouraging them to risk their life or put themselves into danger. They should also learn basic lifesaving skills that could help in an emergency and not tamper with or remove lifesaving equipment like lifebelts.”